Former Ontario MPP Peter Kormos dead at 60
Published Saturday, March 30, 2013 2:37PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 30, 2013 6:10PM EDT
Peter Kormos, a former Ontario New Democrat MPP and an outspoken politician, has died at the age of 60.
Kormos died Saturday morning at his Welland, Ont. home.
Niagara Regional Police said they went to the house along with paramedics for a medical call at 10:45 a.m. A police officer said Kormos was found by a family friend who called 911.
The cause of his death is under investigation. An autopsy is scheduled to take place Sunday.
Kormos, a criminal lawyer by trade, spent more than two decades in provincial politics and was known for speaking his mind and delivering impassioned speeches in the legislature, often in his signature outfit – an open-neck shirt and cowboy boots.
After leaving Queen’s Park, Kormos was elected to represent Welland at the Niagara Region council last year.
Politicians of all stripes reacted with shock at the news of Kormos’s death.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Kormos was “a legend in politics” and a “champion” for his constituents.
“New Democrats, and Ontarians across the province, have lost a giant today and I've lost a mentor and friend,” she said in a statement.
“Peter earned the respect of everyone he met regardless of political stripe. He never minced words and he never put on airs. Peter treated everyone equally whether he was speaking with eloquence on the floor of the Legislature, or shooting the breeze with his friends at the Welland market.”
Kormos was first elected to the legislature in 1988 and joined the NDP cabinet when the party came to power under Bob Rae in 1990.
Kormos and Rae famously feuded over the issue of public auto insurance and Kormos was eventually dropped from cabinet in 1991 after a series of events.
Rae, now the federal interim Liberal leader, expressed his condolences to Kormos’s family on Twitter.
“Peter Kormos was one of my fiercest critics, but his death comes too soon for a man of his talent,” he wrote.
Even though the NDP was defeated in the 1995 Ontario election, Kormos kept his seat. He later served as house leader for the NDP caucus.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak also paid tribute to the former MPP.
“He was a supportive friend, and I will miss his presence and his profound understanding of parliamentary procedure,” Wynne said in a statement.
Hudak said he and Kormos shared “Slovak origins,” and although they were not close friends, “we had that bond of heritage, which transcends politics.”
“Through his many kind gestures, I always had the feeling he was aware of this,” Hudak said in a statement.
“I felt it because Peter was one of those rare Parliamentarians who simply dropped the partisanship at the door on the way out of Queen’s Park at the end of the day.”
Kormos did not shy away from controversy or antics during his political career. One of his speeches on auto insurance lasted all night in the legislature and he once compared former premier Dalton McGuinty to Pontius Pilate for trying to oust the Ontario ombudsman.
Niagara Region Coun. Andrew Petrowski, who co-hosted a radio talk show with Kormos, said his colleague was a force to be reckoned with.
"When Peter stood up nobody in council, including the chair, could control him. He was in control of that council and he would get his thought across come heck or high water," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press